Volume 14, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1384-6655
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9811
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This paper examines the use of gei constructions in Mandarin Chinese and bei constructions in Cantonese within three corpora (of spoken and written Chinese and Hong Kong Cantonese). There are seven structural patterns in which gei/VLgei takes two objects. The order of these objects is determined by the principle of end-weight. Another four structural patterns see the co-occurrence of verb phrases with gei/V-gei. About four percent of gei constructions are used to mark a passivised verb. The study also reveals that the fronting of direct object marked by the preposition ba is a rather formal style. In the contrast between Mandarin gei constructions and Cantonese bei constructions, it was found that (i) the order of indirect object followed by direct object as in Mandarin Chinese reverses in Cantonese; (ii) when compared with Mandarin gei, Cantonese bei is more commonly used as a passive marker and as a verb meaning ‘allow’.


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